April 2016 – Chicago, IL
- Opening Keynote Plenary Address: Sparking Communication in Sexuality, Activism and Acceptance
- Closing Keynote Plenary Address: Afternoon Tea with Bryanna A. Jenkins
- 25 Tips for Sexy Aging
- The Art of Accepting No with Monique Darling and Reid Mihalko
- Big, Happy Bodies: Fat Embodiment and Our Sexual Selves
- Consent and Abuse Awareness in Alternative Sexual Communities
- Covering Porn: The Life of An American Porn Journalist
- The Dark Side of Tantra
- Decolonizing Sex Positivity
- Diversity. Representation, and Inclusion in the Polyamory Community
- Finding Good News about Sex, Pleasure, and Diversity in the Bible
- Finding Your Unique Voice and Brand to Wow Your Perfect Clients (and Create Bigger Value)
- Genitals and orgasms and anal, oh my: sex education in Iceland
- Getting PrEPared
- Goddess Bodies Mortal Minds: The intersectionality of Black Sexuality and Respectability
- Honesty, Vulnerability and Resilience: Creating a space for our best work.
- How to Do Advocacy to Change the World (OR Real Talk on How to Spend a Lot of Time Fighting for Small Changes and Doing a #Headdesk)
- Is there a secret handshake? – Navigating Alternative Lifestyles
- Kinky & Codependent
- Lube! An-In Depth Look at Personal Lubricants
- The Mask: Addressing Dark Desires
- Military and Veterans 101 for Sexuality Professionals
- Naming, Shaming, And Victim-Blaming: Practical Safety with a Sex-Positive Spin
- Online Harassment: It Happened To Us, How We Dealt With It, and How You Can, Too
- Overwhelmed and Overworked? Self Care IS a Priority
- O Wow! Discovering Your Ultimate Orgasm
- Partners in Pleasure: Building bridges between sex positive retailers & educators
- Passing and Panties: Disability, Femininity, and Sexual Identity
- Pleasure is Primary
- The Politics of Defining Sex & Anatomy
- Queer & Trans Sexual Health
- The Revolution Will Not Be Comfortable: Radical Self-Care for Social Justice Warriors
- Sex, Desire, and the Revolution: Why Sexual Liberation is Necessary for our Movements
- Sex Positive Parenting
- Sharing Your Sex Life on the Page and the Stag
- Slut-shaming: Taking on intolerance about our open, unashamed sexualities
- Talking about it: Porn literacy as media literacy
- What does consent look like: Practicing consent in kink
- Writing Sex & Pleasure: Tackling a Comprehensive Sexuality Tome
- Yes, All Genders: How to Normalize and Include Trans Bodies and Pleasure in Adult Sex Ed
- You’re Good Enough, You’re Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like You; Battling Impostor Syndrome for Sexuality Professionals.
Click here to register!
25 Tips for Sexy Aging
No need to fear aging! Whether you’re 25 or 75, there’s plenty you can learn now to make sure that you age with a juicy attitude, sizzling orgasms, and strategies for staying sexually vibrant despite what the aging process throws your way. You’ll learn practical tips and attitude adjustments to enrich your sex life lifelong – partnered or solo. Some are quick and easy, many will surprise you, and a few will take some practice and commitment. All will benefit you lifelong. You don’t have to be a senior to learn from and enjoy this presentation!
These are just a few of the 25 topics we’ll cover:
- When Sex Changes: How to think about it, plan for it, talk about it.
- Exploring Adaptations: When the old ways don’t work the way they used to.
- Track the Tingle: How to figure out your most sexually responsive time of day.
- When NOT to Have Sex: The two times of day that are orgasm killers in an aging body.
- Safer Sex with a Soft Penis: How to put a condom on a soft penis with your mouth. (Even young sex bloggers told me they never knew this!)
- Talking to Your Doc: Learn the “my sexuality is important to me” mantra and how to get help from your medical professionals, even if they look the age of your grandkids.
- Thinking Way Ahead: Should you write your “Advanced Directive for Sexual Expression”?
Let the Masters of Cuddle Party (between us, we have led close to 1,000 Cuddle Parties!) give you practical tips to begin practicing accepting another’s “no” more gracefully. Offering the power of no and boundary (understand why your “no” says more about you than your “yes”) We will show you the many hacks and practices we have cultivated and shared in our numerous workshops and with 100’s of clients, to reframe any negative association or reaction around hearing “no” so that you can leave our session with real world tools on how to respond with an absolutely genuine, “thank you for taking care of yourself” as you honor with gratitude, the gift of that other’s no. You begin to trust one’s “yes” once you hear their “no” and from that trust the real fun begins, because then you can imagine and begin asking for anything, knowing they will only say “yes” to the things they are truly a hell yes to. This session will be filled with the unique dynamic that Reid and Monique teach with, Pragmatism, humor, vulnerable stories, and experiential so you leave having felt the difference in your body. This is a subject we could spend our entire life geeking out on, and there is no one we would rather share it with than our Catalyst Con Family.
In this session, we’ll provide real answers to familiar questions that surround the intersections of fat experience and sex positivity. Using an interdisciplinary approach that incorporates philosophies of yoga, principles of fat liberation and radical queer theory, we’ll identify daily practices and self care strategies that can help someone grow and maintain a positive and pleasurable relationship with their own fat body, even while living in the midst of fatphobic culture. We’ll explore ways in which fatness can complicate as well as enrich the experience of having a body, and discuss ways to center fat bodies in everyday life and within sex positive spaces. Finally, we’ll talk nuts and bolts and share some practical sex and pleasure tips especially for fat bodies, inspired by our respective backgrounds in yoga and sex toy wrangling. (You will not want to miss these, trust us!)
This session is presented from a trauma-informed perspective, and may include brief, partnered conversational activities as well as time for open discussion. There will not be any touch-based or movement-centered activities.
Alternative sexual communities which practice BDSM, swinging, and kink are often disparate, decentralized, and highly segregated by race, social class, orientation and interests, and other factors. In addition, our community is constantly in flux because of the arrival of newcomers and the departure of members who leave for a variety of reasons. Many local groups are passionately committed to welcoming newcomers, embracing diversity, and allowing people to find and follow their own path. However, some of the ways in which these values are instituted and the disparate nature and values of our community makes an organized effort to raise awareness of consent and abuse difficult. Efforts to remain unintrusive in the private relationships of community members can shade imperceptibly into denial of signs of abuse. A commitment to welcoming new members to social groups can inadvertently allow abusers to move from group to group while survivors of their abuse remain isolated. Fetlife, the central resource many people use to find communities and groups, disallows the discussion or allegation of abuse in the name of avoiding “drama.”
This panel seeks to further the discussion of this problem, outline some of its causes, and further the discussion of how local group leaders and community members can institute consent and abuse awareness education modules, maintain better communication between disparate social groups and their leaders and members, and launch online resources for networking on this issue. Proposed speakers are community member and panel moderator Kevin Heffernan, blogger, essayist, and community member Erin Kennedy, and therapist and community member Tamara Pincus.
Covering Porn: The Life of An American Porn Journalist
The American porn business is filled with contradictions: An industry barely a generation away from illegality, that largely ignores its own history in favor of women who are “barely legal,” that pays most of its stars less in the final years of their careers than in the first, yet that uses more bandwidth and makes more money than most mainstream industries, where misperceptions abound about the people who present themselves in such clinical detail. There’s a lot of significant legal, social, technological, and even artistic phenomena going on behind those facial cumshots. Join America’s Beloved Porn Journalist, Gram Ponante, who has covered this world with humor and thoughtfulness for a dozen years. In this session Gram shares some insights into the business, its history, and its personalities as well as anecdotes from porn sets, both behind and in front of the camera.
Tantric and neo-tantric practices can be profound and powerful, enabling people to own their sexuality more fully, connect more deeply with their partners and expand their capacity for pleasure. But Tantra’s origins are in a culture that’s vastly different from 21st-century America, and many aspects of this vast, diverse, and poorly defined tradition get lost or watered down in translation. This raises a variety of practical and ethical considerations that too often go unexamined in the modern spiritual marketplace. Tantra isn’t all dancing in the light; the tradition teaches that embracing and exploring the darker aspects of human existence can be empowering, so it’s important to peer into some of these darker corners, among them:
Cultural appropriation: a complex topic because there is a long history of cultural exchange between India and Europe that dates to Alexander the Great. In addition, Indian and (more recently) Tibetan teachers have proselytized and sought Western students. Nevertheless, there are ethical problems with and perils related to embracing a tradition out of context.
Sexual and financial abuse: a number of highly-regarded Indian teachers have been revealed as sexual abusers. Sometimes this abuse was dressed up as a “Tantric Initiation”. In a number of instances, the sexual abuse has taken place in a context where total devotion to the teacher is demanded and huge financial donations are encouraged or expected. Virtually all American Tantra that originates with an Indian teacher is tainted by impropriety – sexual, financial or both.
Decolonizing Sex Positivity
At the heart of mainstream sex positivity is the idea that its creation was a response to sex negative white American culture. However, the promotion of pleasure and sex positivity within human sexuality remains proprietary to a small, vocal group of white, cisgender women who are thin and able-bodied, with some degree of class and educational privilege. This workshop aims to demonstrate the white occupation of dominant sexual ideals as a form of colonization of sex positive thought. Colonization of the mind is the process by which the white colonial system deposits foreign thinking patterns and contents into the colonized mind. Decolonization is the process by which the colonized mind slowly excavates these deeply embedded and problematic political patterns. Developed in direct response to the notable absence of non-white perspectives and representations in the sex positive movement, this workshop will unpack the need for decolonization within the context of sex positive theory while presenting a special focus on desi, South Asian, and Muslim cultural inclusivity. We will discuss concrete examples of those who experience sex negativity in non-white, non-Anglo Saxon, non- western, and non-Christian cultures. We will discuss concrete examples of those who live under sex negative Muslim cultures and Hindu fundamentalist nationalist diasporic cultures. This workshop aims to bridge the gap between the need for decolonization and how to facilitate decolonization in practice. How do non-white folks struggle with ideas of gender, sexuality, and sex positivity, having encountered them from a white-saturated perspective? How can populations colonized by mainstream white sex positivity create alternative ways to be sex positive? What can that look like?
Diversity. Representation, and Inclusion in the Polyamory Community
While polyamory and polyamorists are often viewed as a very welcome bunch, far too often, our communities and representation appear very limited. While we can be loud and proud when it comes to feminism and LGBT issues, sometimes we are suspiciously silent in regards to race. Beyond that, we sometimes, and often unknowingly, foster a standoffish, stressful or downright unwelcoming atmosphere around people of color. This presentation is a discussion about why diversity is important to our movement. We will tackle ways that we can proactively promote an inclusive environment in our lives, in our communities, and at our events. Most importantly, we will go over what we can do to maintain that diversity.
Finding Good News about Sex, Pleasure, and Diversity in the Bible
While the word “gospel” means good news, throughout the ages there has been little positive in the Christian messages about human sexuality or the sexual body. Instead, Western church teachings have focused specifically on sexuality that is marital, monogamous, and heterosexual while minimizing or avoiding the topic of sexual pleasure. In addition, Christian orthodox teachings too often have denounced sexual diversity and freedom. This workshop will identify the impediments of cultural and religious sex negativity but find arguments for sex positivity in the bible itself. While we will acknowledge and deconstruct the currently used by many Christians as “clobber passages” that are meant to restrict and control sexual expression, equal attention will be given to those biblical and theological teachings that celebrate the body, women’s power, sensuality, sexual diversity and the pleasure of sexuality in general. At the conclusion, workshop participants will be able to identify the basis for Christian sex-negativity and know where to find in the bible the teachings that bring liberation and freedom for our sexual lives. This workshop will not question the legitimacy of Christianity, but it will deconstruct Christian erotophobia by revealing it to be inconsistent with the gospel that the church preaches. This workshop will be taught by a Christian clergy, but one does not have to be a Christian to attend.
How can you reach the clients you love working with AND establish the value of your time and products at the same time? Its actually easier and more natural than you think…
Just like the sex and relationship skills you so patiently teach, the secret is in being authentic and sharing the very quirks that you think will cause people to run for the hills. The reason so many businesses sound alike, and why the courses they offer start sounding trite, is because most business people think that being professional is all about hiding quirks and “flaws,” or they don’t share in an empowering way.
We’ll discuss how sharing the “imperfections” can help people see if you’re exactly the right person for them, (and we’ll share examples including how Cathy sharing her 320lb weight with her list – the thing she thought she needed to hide- helped inspire and encourage thousands) and how that can help them see you as a unique and valuable resource rather than a commodity to be taken for granted.
We’ll discuss the boundaries between privacy and self-expression, the difference between sharing vulnerably and being a victim, and how to share your quirks and “flaws” while still being professional.
Genitals and orgasms and anal, oh my: sex education in Iceland
Iceland is a bit different from the rest of the world in terms of LGBTQI rights and gender equality. We have sex at an early age and sex before marriage is a given. As an Icelandic sex writer and educator I will cover what is going on in sexual education in Iceland, how sex ed benefits from using humor, honesty, facts and genital photos, in addition to getting parents to be a part of the talk, without making it a specific one-time talk. I will show slides from my sex education, talk about my background and how humor, sincerity and honesty unlocked everything, both career wise, and to really making a change in peoples lives, for the better.
While there are many ways to reduce the risk of acquiring HIV, some of the most debated methods have surfaced in the last few years. Pre and post-exposure prophylaxis are two methods used to stop new HIV infections among HIV negative people. This will be a workshop style session where the facilitators will first quickly review the HIV basics (i.e. risks for transmission, prevention strategies, modes of transmission, what is AIDS versus HIV, etc.). From there, the facilitators will gather information from the participants of the workshop through open ended questions and/or polling about what they know or think about PrEP. This will allow the facilitators to discuss the information or misinformation that participants present. The workshop will then cover the important facts about PrEP and its effectiveness. By highlighting the personal aspect of PrEP, the facilitators hope to show that it is one option for helping to prevent HIV and that it depends on each individual person to determine whether or not they should or should not consider PrEP. The facilitators hope that this engagement will present the participants with the facts and debunk misconceptions so that they may make the best decision for their health in the future. Furthermore, the facilitators will advise participants on how to navigate the process of getting access to PrEP through their physician and insurance companies, as this is often a difficult process to undergo individually.
Black bodies have been historically a fantasy made flesh. Saartijie Baartman (also known as Hottentot Venus) is one of the most world renowned African bodies to date. The chronicled history of the Black Venus Goddess demonstrates significant acknowledgment that the black female body is revered and cursed with the worlds’ obsession over its construction and influence. This round table is to provoke the self-actualization and emotional intelligence to overcome this pandemic. Furthermore, this round table seeks to address the goddess body’s intention to be loving, sexual, spiritual, and communal. We will examine popular culture and sexualities of black goddess bodies amongst mortal minds constrained by social, sexual, and emotional scripts that fail to honor the possessors of these bodies as sexual beings. We will discuss what happens when the Black Female Body becomes so marginalized, it is prevented from living up to its true sexual and spiritual potential. What do societal depictions of Black Goddess Bodies” tell us about how Black women are perceived? How does the Black goddess inspire and reconfigure her sexual-emotional self while engendering the respect she is often socially and emotionally punished for demanding? Let’s explore this process of conjoining a goddess body with a goddess mind, spirit and behavior.
During our 2015 CCon East session on emotional health & exploring alternative sexualities, one thing became abundantly clear: the emotional challenges you think you’ll face as a sexuality professional and the ones you actually face are rather different. From clients engaging in situations that push our personal sense of ethics, to worrying about our professional bodies coming for our credentials, working with and in sexuality is complicated – and we need different solutions for support. Once again, we hope to create an interactive space where everyone is invited to use personal experiences to dialogue about the unique perspectives of those who work in sexuality while providing ways that attendees can carry on the conversation Post-Con. As facilitators of this space we’ll focus on the “how to” and the “where” with respect to building and maintaining spaces of honesty, vulnerability and resilience, recognizing the challenges we face as professionals, which can be particular to each individual, by sharing our own process of building personal support, and work with participants present to identify and create support systems for themselves.
How to Do Advocacy to Change the World (OR Real Talk on How to Spend a Lot of Time Fighting for Small Changes and Doing a #Headdesk)
Ok, so you’re mad about the fact that everything is terrible for people in your own and adjacent communities.But what can you do about it? In this session, based on Audacia Ray’s experiences doing media and policy advocacy by and for sex workers, we will talk about what it takes to make concrete media, public policy, and legislative changes. We will discuss several campaign case studies and share tools for developing your own advocacy strategy, collaborating with the right communities to get it done, and avoiding harming people in the process. Come curious, nerdy, and ready for both discouragement and motivation.
Many people are drawn to alternative lifestyles such as BDSM, polyamory, and swinging, because they are seeking to explore a different side of themselves. As part of the learning process, people often feel that it is important to find a community to help educate them on their new lifestyle journey. For some, seeking out a community for education and camaraderie can be the most difficult part of the journey. At times, it may feel as though you have joined a club, but never learned the secret handshake.
In this session, we will share ways to find your place within the alternative community that meshes with your needs and desire. This panel will cover topics ranging from appropriate lifestyle etiquette and finding a community, to negotiation
Kinky & Codependent
Inara de Luna
What is your motivation for obeying your dominant? How do you feel about your sub taking your advice? Do your submissive/Dominant tendencies stem from a need to please/be pleased, a fear of abandonment, or a genuine desire to serve/be served? The line between being kinky and codependent can be a fine one, and can sometimes be quite blurry. Let’s explore how to distinguish between healthy kinkiness and unhealthy codependence. We’ll discuss how a D/s relationship can be either healing or damaging for a codependent, how to identify if codependence exists in your relationship and if so whether yours may be healing or damaging, and how to move in a healthy direction if it has begun to deteriorate.
Lube! An-In Depth Look at Personal Lubricants
Sarah E. Mueller
Personal lubricants have so much potential for improving people’s sex lives and general well being, as well as having important uses in medical and physical therapy settings. To start the workshop I will go over various uses for personal lubricants, and the different types of lubricants readily available to the public and to medical professionals (e.g. water-based, silicone-based, oil-based, and bulk lubricants such as Surgilube).
By focusing on breaking down lubricants by evaluating their ingredients, pH levels, as osmolality, I’ll present a scientifically based analysis of how different personal lubricants affect the genitals and sexual function. This information is vital to consumers and anyone making recommendations to folks using lubricants. Personal lubricants can become a necessity for sexual intercourse and pleasure, especially those with allergies, sensitive skin, or those who are pregnant, menopausal, undergoing chemo or radiation therapy, or hormone replacement therapy. These populations are often the most sensitive to some of the common ingredients in personal lubricants and are more likely to experience a negative reaction to a product.
It is also important for consumers and patients to understand that lubricant use is common, helpful, and something that should not cause shame and does not indicate that there is anything abnormal or “wrong” with their bodies.
Along with discussing how lubes affect the body, I will present concise information on the regulations that determine personal lubricant’s FDA classification as a medical device and the standards and testing that implies.
The Mask: Addressing Dark Desires
Yoseñio V. Lewis
Remember the first time you told someone of a fetish you were interested in, or something you wanted to do/have done to you, and you received the “deer in the headlights” look? Remember the reaction the time you said “No, I don’t do that!” Remember how it made you feel? Sometimes to avoid feeling that way again we create masks. We put on masks to protect ourselves from criticism and harm so that we can fit in and be seen by others as “just as kinky” or a “True Dom/Sub/Top/Bottom/Slave” etc.
Other times we use masks not to hide what we desire, but to display what we have transformed into. We utilize masks as avenues to interact and play with facets of ourselves. Let’s address the consequences of using masks to hinder or enhance reaching our full sexual potential. In this workshop we’ll use interactive exercises and small group discussion to discover our masks and ways we can manage them in our sexual/kink lives.
Veterans and military service members make up 8% of the US population and yet less than 1% of our citizens served in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. We have a culture that values military service but whose populace is more isolated from direct experience with service members than ever before. More than 25% of Veterans and Service Members endorse sexual health concerns when seeking treatment for other medical issues. While this population often turns to their own internal resources first due to availability and cultural competence, the Department of Defense and the Veteran’s Administration lack appropriate resources for sexual health needs and often do not assess for sexual health problems. How can we, as sexuality professionals, better meet the needs of this underserved population and actively welcome them into sex-positive spaces? Presented for a general audience, the content of the session is specific to the military culture, structure, and special issues facing this population and is based on empirically validated research and clinical experience with an overall goal of determining how each one of us can better serve their sexual health needs.
We live in a society that takes practical safety information and uses it to discredit and blame victims for their own traumas. How then do we talk about personal responsibility without falling into our societal penchant for victim blaming? When faced with risk awareness, messages are generally focused on women’s responsibility for their own sexual safety. How do we open this conversation to encourage everyone to be a part of a community-wide effort to mitigate risk while also challenging cultural stigmas and safety cliches? Join us for a discussion on risk aware assessment surrounding sexual safety and its implementation into daily life! This panel will guide participants to make more empowered choices by applying many of the sex-positive risk aware tactics in their lives outside the bedroom/dungeon.
Harassment of women who share their opinions online are growing to become common, pervasive, and frightening. Gamergate-style threats and anger have been lodged against many prominent sex-positive bloggers, forcing them to go private or even think about shutting down their sites and accounts. At the same time, the problem isn’t just facing outspoken women who address feminism, sex, gender issues, or sexism. This aggression has been aimed at any woman with a strong following or persona online. These trolls hide behind anonymous accounts, sometimes more than one, and share private information publically, making the Internet a sometimes dangerous place for the women they attack. Many women suffer from depression, anxiety, and even PTSD as a result of being actively trolled. This panel will talk about two writers experiences with online (and sometimes offline) harassment and doxxing. We will share resources for how to get fake accounts shut down, ways to control the conversation, safeguards that you can take proactively, and even share legal options. Our goal is to open the discussion and create a dialog so you don’t have to abandon your writing and leave the Internet for good.
“What would it take for you to stop judging and being so critical of yourself?” This session is primarily for people( especially facilitators and sex workers) who feel like they don’t have enough time to nurture and nourish themselves, yet who think they have all the time in the world to hold space, and take care of others. Join Peter and Monique as we offer simple, practical, and applicable routines to return self care as YOUR top priority, which can help you align your work and the rest of your life with the results that matter most.
- Tips to quiet the mind and be more aware of your behaviors
- Learn easy strategies, that you can do at home or on the road, that help you consistently operate at “Your best”
- Simple nutrition and movement techniques to keep your body at it’s best
- Learn how to consistently nurture and hold space for yourself, rewiring the old paradigm that the greatest service is to others, and realize that you can’t truly be there for anyone else until you have learned to be there for you.
- Learn why less IS more
- Start where you are, take baby steps, acknowledge and celebrate, and reward your accomplishments.
O Wow! Discovering Your Ultimate Orgasm
It’s time for a revolution of the sexual kind. It’s time to define what we see as “sex” and what part women play in it. It’s time for women to stop being second and start seeing their pleasure, their desire, and their orgasms as the main event. Penetration is one act of many and should no longer be center stage. It’s time for women to focus on having ultimate orgasms and worry less about how sex has been defined in the past and more about what they want right now.
The author of “O Wow: Discovering Your Ultimate Orgasm” will discuss why this revolution is so important to men and women alike in pursuit of universal sex positivity and equality.
An ultimate orgasm is your personal best orgasm. It doesn’t leave anything at the table. It doesn’t want anything more. It lasts as long as it lasts. It takes as long as it takes. It’s as messy and loud or quiet and tidy as you like. It has no room for shame or apology. It leaves you feeling like you just landed on another planet and you definitely need to take some time before you can drive a motor vehicle or operate heavy machinery.
Partners in Pleasure: Building bridges between sex positive retailers & educators
Want to boost your resources? Let’s explore ways that local sex-positive retailers can be a source of support for you and your clients, and create ideas for how clinicians, educators, and retailers can work together to improve the sexual health and wellness of the whole community. There is a divide between many sex educators and clinicians and the retail adult industry, for reasons ranging from outright distrust to lack of knowledge. This workshop will break down the assumptions about sex positive adult retail, discusses how to find retailers that can support clients in positive, healthy ways, and sparks ideas for creating partnerships that can benefit everyone. We will also discuss ways to partner with businesses to help expand their educational offerings, as well as ways that they can offer educational support to clinicians in a wide range of areas.
Passing and Panties: Disability, Femininity, and Sexual Identity
Through personal stories of disability and sexual development, Leandra Vane sheds light on how embodied experiences play a role in shaping our sexual lives. Concepts discussed include visible femininity, relationship boundaries, and the often peculiar link between disability and sexual objectification. The talk is tied together with the theme of passing in the realm of body identity: a quest for fulfilling experiences against a backdrop of social survival and how, in the speaker’s case, lace panties became a symbol for successful passing in a disabled body.
Pleasure is Primary
Laura Rademacher, MA, LMFT, CST
Sexual pleasure is overlooked and undervalued in American culture. Sexual health professionals are often encouraged to work from frameworks of disease and dysfunction (How do we prevent STI transmission? What is the diagnosis?), rather than focusing on how to cultivate and increase pleasure. The general public, and even some sexuality professionals, tend to devalue the work of those who focus on pleasure such as sex workers, porn performers, or sex toy salespeople.
While popular myth casts sexual pleasure as frivolous, elusive, corrupting, and out-of-control, this workshop sets out to establish that pleasure is a primary building block of sexual health and happiness. Pleasure should be one of the primary reasons people choose to be sexual. People of all ages benefit when sex education includes pleasure education. Teaching about consent without mentioning pleasure creates an incomplete and confusing picture. When pleasure is overlooked in education, therapy, or sexual politics, we overlook a powerful source of healing and empowerment.
In this workshop, participants will learn about the mental and physical health benefits of pleasure, positive health outcomes gained by teaching about pleasure, and why teaching pleasure is a vital part of teaching consent. Everyone suffers when pleasure is left out of the conversation, but this workshop will outline the ways in which people with vulvas and people who identify as LGBT*Q suffer disproportionate negative effects. Possible strategies for incorporating a “pleasure positive” culture in various professional settings will be suggested.
How we think about the body and its possibilities—from gender identity to how bodies can behave sexually—is largely shaped by the language we use to describe it, from anatomical parts to sexual orientations. Language is always in a state of change—what’s happening with those changes, and how they point us in various directions, is the subject of Robert’s analysis in this session. He’ll share some of the information of the past to shed light on today’s definitions.
You want to touch me where? Body and sex positivity can be tricky landscapes to navigate and especially intense for queer and trans identified folks.
So much emphasis can be put on gender identity and presentation, but what happens when the lights go down or doctor appointments come up? Join sex educators Andy Duran and Jack Rednour-Bruckman as they present a fun and informative workshop for queer and trans identified folk and the people who love and care for them. This workshop and discussion will focus on sexual health for queer & trans communities, and promote a more embodied, empowered, and authentic sexual experience for anyone struggling.
Health care and sexual wellness are critical, yet so many queer and trans people don’t feel safe enough to access them. Dealing with pap smears, breast exams, prostate health, or a new lover can create fear and isolation. This workshop will help create a welcoming body positive space that is beyond the cis binary. Join us!
The Revolution Will Not Be Comfortable: Radical Self-Care for Social Justice Warriors.
The revolution will not be comfortable, but it doesn’t have to be excruciating. For social justice warriors, self-care is not a luxury – it’s mandatory. In this workshop, participants will be actively engaged in self-reflection and personal exploration throughout, and will leave with a broad set of practical skills and techniques to help maintain well-being while staying present in the fight. Skills learned in the workshop are also helpful for caregivers and helping professionals who assist others with their self-care.
Sex, Desire, and the Revolution: Why Sexual Liberation is Necessary for our Movements
Roan Sarah Coughtry, MSW
In this session, we’ll examine the ways in which sexual liberation is a critical factor for our racial, economic, gender, disability, and other social justice movements. Examining the effects of sex- and body-positivity, we’ll explore how social justice movements could be enhanced and further empowered by exploring their intersections with sexual liberation. We’ll explore sex and desire as sources of internal power, and how this power is diminished through the sexual shaming, trauma, and violence that are so prevalent in our society. We’ll discuss how guilt, shame, fear, and violence related to sex and sexuality impact our relationship with our bodies and desires, and how this contributes to individual and collective disempowerment that affects all areas of our justice movements. In contrast, we’ll explore how desire is a creative force of empowerment and resistance to dominant power structures, and how finding liberation within our bodies and connection to our authentic desires enhances our ability to do meaningful liberation work in other areas.
Author Shar Rednour, The Sex & Pleasure Book, The Femme’s Guide to the Universe and Jack Rednour-Bruckman, Executive Vice President of Good Vibrations–the premier sex positive retailer, host a workshop on how to talk to your kids about sex and how to be parent in a sex positive and body positive way free of shame and stigma yet full of healthy boundaries and good communication. Real life partners and parents to three kids, their combined experience on this topic professionally and personally is full of good advice and practical how to’s for parents, educators, professionals, activists, and advocates alike. Sex education is sorely lacking especially for anyone under 18 years old yet popular culture, gaming, social media, and mainstream media is full of messages and images that inundate kids on a daily basis. How do you help them navigate and how do you empower them to make good choices and judgements especially around body positivity and consent? This workshop will help you answer these questions and give you ideas to take back to your professional and personal life whether you have kids or not.
Whether on the page, stage or podcast, sharing personal sex stories means making public what’s often deemed private and inviting audiences to read, hear—and judge. What are the biggest challenges and rewards of airing our “dirty” laundry? How do we decide which sex stories are worth telling, and what the best methods of telling them are? Is writing about your sex life different than sharing it live or via podcast? How does someone who wants to tell their sex story break into podcasting, live storytelling and writing? Is there such a thing as TMI? How can we be deeply honest while honoring others’ boundaries (and having ours respected)? How can we protect our emotional safety and professional reputations while also doing justice to the personal stories we want to share as both a means of expression and a way of furthering sex positive values? How can we tie our lives into what’s happening in the larger world and further social and political change?
This panel will explore what it’s like to invite readers, listeners and audiences inside our bedrooms, and beyond. Featuring Eric Barry, host of the sex-positive Full Disclosure podcast and writer for The Huffington Post, Lola, host of the live sex-positive Q&A go-go show and podcast Sex Ed A Go-Go, and Suzy Spencer, journalist and author of Secret Sex Lives: A Year on the Fringes of American Sexuality. Moderated by Rachel Kramer Bussel, journalist, DAME sex columnist and author of the personal essay collection Sex & Cupcakes.
Slut-shaming is an issue outside and sometimes even within sex-positive community, which itself means different things to different people. Whether it comes from people who are very different from us or way closer to home (even from intimate friends or partners), it can hit hard. This panel examines some of the ways we’ve witnessed, experienced, and dealt with slut-shaming, sharing strategies to take the sting and the oppression out of other peoples’ attempts to control our sexualities via shame and intolerance.
Talking about it: Porn literacy as media literacy
Porn is everywhere, but a general sexual taboo in North America means that we don’t talk about it the same way we do other forms of media. With an internet full of any act imaginable, how do we teach people to understand the differences in others’ healthy sexual desires, especially when our first exposure to those kinks might be via a random poorly worded google search? As much as mainstream culture is loath to admit it, porn is media that requires literacy, specifically, media that affects our perceptions of our own and others’ sexuality. In this session, Kate Sinclaire will address the impact that our cultural silence has on sexual exploration, consent, kink, sexuality, and gender, and how open communication can improve our sexual wellbeing. We’ll also cover the relation between sexual content, “risky behaviour”, ideological state apparatus (religion, the family, education systems, etc), the NC-17 rating in popular movies – relating sex as art vs sex as porn – and the parental roles involved in teaching these concepts in a world where youth have essentially unrestricted access to porn.
The BDSM world has a paradoxical place in society. On one hand, it provides an outlet of sex positivity which advocates informed consent and eschews abuse. At the same time, the kink world has structural elements like hierarchies and secrecy that can encourage consent violation. Kinky sex is about pushing boundaries to some degree, physically and mentally.
To the outside observer, kink can seem like a place where actual consent is confusing and the power balance of relationships actually seems imbalanced. Even for those experienced in kink, there are often disagreements about what constitutes a consent violation. What does consent look like when no is sometimes intended to mean yes?
Consent is more than simply saying yes. Instead, consent is dynamic, dealing with intentions, verbal agreements and actions. The conversation regarding consent needs to be reframed in regards to kink lifestyles. Communication should be clear and informed, but actions should support the
given consent. Simply speaking about consent isn’t enough, instead it must be practiced to truly be effective.
This class will deal with the fundamentals of how to practice consent in the kink lifestyle. We’ll discuss methods to define consent and dynamically apply it, in a manner that will enhance communication and safety.
Participants should leave the class with new tools to proactively grant, receive and practice informed consent in relationships and interactions.
Making a living as a sexuality educator requires creative thinking, especially when it comes to reaching older adults and the professionals who serve them. This panel discussion will examine the various places where work is available—and how we create it—for educators, speakers and writers. Who are our allies and potential partners? How do we build these partnerships? From medical practices to the spa or gym—where do we find our target audiences? This discussion will cover: how to identify and reach out to allies, how to build mutually beneficial relationships, and how to take an entrepreneurial approach to sex education. We will address sexuality educator for older adults of all genders and orientations.
When old friends Femmepress Shar Rednour and Good Vibrations Staff Sexologist Carol Queen reunited to write a book on sex they didn’t want to make just any “how-to guide,” they set out to create an expansive sex compendium that anyone could use and benefit from reading and re-reading throughout the years. Hear their thoughts about sexuality from cradle to grave—and enjoy their tales of throwing away Kinsey’s rulers to embrace spectrums instead. Magnifying glasses gathered dust while horizons of infinite possibilities were eye-spied. Prisms are indeed welcome at this presentation!
If we posit that sexual growth is never-ending, then is there any end to writing a book?
Find out how they distilled almost forty years of Good Vibrations’ know-how into THE book about sex and pleasure.
From Shar’s emphasis on shame-free child-rearing and ally-making to Carol’s commitment to sex-positive discourse and diversity, in this presentation they’ll share the results of their collaboration –– the whole-life overview of sexual health and pleasure, and how to get it all on the page.
Yes, All Genders: How to Normalize and Include Trans Bodies and Pleasure in Adult Sex Ed
Alex (formerly Sabrina) Morgan
While trans rights are making huge strides globally at present, most sexual health and pleasure resources for adults still reference “male” and “female” sexuality in ways that link genitals with gender experience. Transgender men, women, and non-binary individuals–as well as their partners–are left out of sexuality workshops, in part because educators aren’t sure how to best address their needs without alienating a general audience.
Over the course of the past two years, recently-transitioned sex educator Alex S. Morgan and genderfluid Tantric facilitator Monique Darling have treated North America as their lab, testing different approaches, terminology, and methods of increasing accessibility for trans, genderqueer, and questioning seekers of adult sex education (as well as their partners).
In a society that often does its best to divorce trans people from their bodies and reinforces the message that trans people are unworthy of love, treating trans bodies as normal and desirable, and trans pleasure as important and worth discussing, is a revolutionary act. From best practices in choosing inclusive language to adapting exercises to reduce the odds of triggering dysphoria, we share what’s worked across America.
You’re Good Enough, You’re Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like You; Battling Impostor Syndrome for Sexuality Professionals.
Have you ever had a moment of panic before a class or client session when you’re sure that you have nothing to offer? That everyone already knows everything you know? There’s a name for that: Impostor Syndrome. The insidious belief that we’re not good enough can prevent us from offering our talents to the world, and it’s more than a simple confidence problem. But there’s good news: “Researchers find that impostorism is most often found among extremely talented and capable individuals, not people who are true impostors.”
So, how do you battle Impostor Syndrome and get your unique message out there? Once you’ve identified the problem, there are some tools and tricks you can use to conquer it.
In this session we’ll discuss Impostor Syndrome and how it manifests, we’ll figure out how to identify when that’s what we’re experiencing, and we’ll talk about ways to get around it so we can be fiercely and authentically ourselves, and get our passion and message out into the world.
We’ll also go through a writing exercise to identify and express our values that has been used to fight Impostor Syndrome with such success that it helped eliminate gendered performance differences in a university physics class. Lastly, we’ll focus on ways to apply these principles and tools to our work on an ongoing basis.
*Positive affirmation in the session title from the Stuart Smalley SNL sketches of the 90’s